Understanding Divorce in Illinois

Divorce today is allowed in every state of the union, but that doesn’t mean the procedure to follow is the same set of steps. In Illinois, like many states, there are local court rules, and these can vary at the detail level county by county. It’s this technical level of nuance that can create big problems for someone who is not familiar with how to follow a local divorce process correctly.

The technical term for divorce in the state of Illinois is a dissolution of marriage. Similar to states in the west, Illinois gives filers a choice. They can either pursue a no-fault divorce or a fault-based one. Obviously, the fault-based version is the more combative version and has bigger loss potential for at least one of the parties involved. However, in practice, many filers go the no-fault direction instead, both agreeing the relationship is done and seeking a mutual legal separation.

For the no-fault path, there are some minimum criteria that have to be met. The court will confirm that the parties have been residents in Illinois for at least 90 days (3 months or so). Second, the process requires a six month separation window where the parties have to live apart before a divorce will be granted. However, if only one of the parties wants the divorce and the other does not, then the separation has to be physically last two years instead.

For the fault-based path, the divorce has to fall into one of the predefined reasons for separation. There are seven statutory causes of fault-based dissolution which include: impotence, bigamy, adultery, abandonment (must be gone for at least one year), alcohol abuse or drug addiction (must be for two years minimum), attempted murder of the spouse, extreme cruelty, felony conviction, and a proven sexually transmitted disease transfer.

There is no default set of forms in Illinois for divorce filing, again, due to the minor differences that occur from county to county. Instead, a filer needs to go to the website or office of his or her local court to get the right forms, or a hire an attorney who knows how to file properly in a given location. Additionally, a proper filing will have a number of documents that have to be completed. For example, Cook County requires a filer to submit:

  • A petition for dissolution of marriage
  • A summons
  • An affidavit of service
  • A certificate of dissolution, and
  • If kids are involved there needs to be a Joint Parenting Agreement, a visitation form, and a uniform order of support (where it applies).

In the case where spouses agree to settle prior to a divorce trial, there still needs to be an appearance in court. This is to ensure for the court’s satisfaction that the settlement is true. The judge will question the spouses on the divorce as well as the property distribution agreed upon. The court will also review the related divorce documents.

As can be seen above, divorce in Illinois can be a confusing and complex situation to navigate by yourself. The Illinois DIY Divorce program from The Law Offices of Bradley R. Tengler can help, providing both expertise and accuracy in filing. Divorce is stressful enough; don’t add to the situation with a lack of qualified help.

Do it yourself divorce in Illinois